Following Sara's Instructions

Naked Jack-in-the-Pulpet Seeds
Per Sara's instructions, I donned surgical gloves and began squirting woody white seeds from the little red berries that could burn my skin off. The seeds were encased in a rusty colored goo that resembled the consistency of snot. After a while I figured out that if you rolled the seeds on a paper towel, the rusty snot would liberate itself from the seeds. Then they air dried for just a few minutes. After drying I rolled them on a new clean paper towel. This rolling removed the rest of the lethal snot/goo. I then placed them in a screen type strainer and gave them a light rinse, then it was back to a new paper towel for more drying. The picture above is the end result. They have now been placed in a paper envelope (never put them in plastic) where they will await planting in the spring. Why so much attention to detail? Any time you plan to propagate a plant that looks like this one does you take extra care. This plant has the potential to resemble a penis.

Jack-in-the-Pulpit Seed Propagation

Jack-in-the-Pulpi Seeds
Sara, Mary and I have been having discussions about the Jack-in-the-Pulpit seeds from our garden. I just thought you'd like to read more about it.

Wasn't that just the quickest little post?

What do you do with a pile of sticks?

Need to get rid of these!
The above pile is one of two. With the impending arrival of a front end loader coming to increase the size of my lawn, they had to be dealt with. We usually pile sticks someplace in the yard and hallmark them for fireplace kindling. With all the trees that have been trimmed or removed recently we have more than our fair share of sticks! What we like to do is leave them for a while and let them dry out and exfoliate naturally. Once that is done they get broken up and shoved in boxes, bags, bins, and whatever else will hold a bunch of sticks. They are then moved into the house and used to start our fireplace insert - wood stove contraption. Getting unwieldy sticks into the stove in a clean, neat and quick way is a contradiction in terms. I gave this a little thought and came up with making faggots. They would be self contained neat. We would also get the sticks removed from where we need to do the heavy equipment work.

Here's how we did it.
First you need a way to tame the sticks and make them a uniform size to fit in the stove. Most people know the maximum log length for their stove or fireplace. Ours is eighteen inches. You can use any container that will match your requirements. We used a container that is ubiquitous around these parts, a fish box.
Box and string are ready
The box is important because it keeps the sticks from getting all over the place while you collect them and allows the twine to stay put during stacking and tying. There were already holes in the sides of the box and we used them to thread the twine through. This was a lucky find as it really helped keep the string in place. The twine we used is a huge roll we had found in my parents basement. My dad has a neat trick that I'd like to share with you. He always kept string in a coffee can. Poked a hole in the lid and fed the string out from the top. This makes dispensing the string very easy. Another tip - always take the twine off the roll from the inside of the roll. It tangles less and you can keep the packaging on the roll.
No Tangles
OK, back to the sticks. After you have enough sticks for a bundle, it's time to tie them up.
See how tidy!
When tying the bundle I tied the string using several wraps on itself. Instead of one over and under, I did three or four over and under twists. This stopped the string from slipping apart and you could still pull on the string to compress the bundle.
This keeps the thing from exploding after you compress it
Please note I used two pieces of twine to wrap the bundles. This keeps the bundle more uniform and will aid in maintaining it's shape. I alternate the tension until the bundle is snug and then tie the same knot again on top of the first knot. This knot is now like a square knot on steroids. (right Barry?) I used a lot of twine and so I wrapped the bundle several times with the string. This is what you get when all is done.
Anal bliss!
Once you have done one, repeat the process and start stacking. We used an old pallet.
We stacked them on an old pallet
We finished with 52 bundles!
Anal on a large scale
We should be able to now start fifty two fires easily.
If only the wood stove wasn't broken.

One important note. If you use these bundles to start your fire, make sure they will be contained when the string burns. The bundles may expand slightly. We keep ours behind the andirons so they don't fall forward.

First Harvest

Some brazing greens were harvested today. Washed them well, whorled them in the salad spinner. (We use an OXO spinner. The thing is amazing. You could dry clothes in it. OK, OK, . . . just your bathing suit) A quick saute in butter and olive oil and we took a trip straight to organic veggie heaven. YUM! The first batch of lettuce is doing great. It will not be long until the summer salads start coming straight from the garden. We will need to stock up on salad dressing.

The Lettuce and Greens
This is our first Planting of Lettuce. Sorrell and brazing greens are in the foreground.